Sunday, October 18, 2015

What's so kosher about kosher salt? Get all the facts, myths, and tips.

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It's taken over the gourmet world.  You pretty much wouldn't write a recipe that includes salt without it.  It's also an annoying fact of life for those of us googling "kosher" recipes - that yummy salt bumps up almost every recipe to the top of the list even if it's a recipe for bacon double cheeseburgers.

First of all, you may already know that "kosher" salt is no more or less kosher than any other salt.  That is, it's kosher, but so is table salt, coarse salt, sea salt, Himalayan pink mountain salt, and every other form of pure salt.

So if you eat kosher and cook kosher, you CAN use kosher salt.  But you don’t have to.

So why is it called kosher?

That’s actually just a mistake.  This flattish crystalline form of salt is actually kosher-ING salt - the kind of salt used to "kasher" meat to make it kosher.

Most kosher salt has air between relatively flat crystals.  So when you're using or substituting kosher salt, use "more" of it - the same amount by weight looks like more on a spoon, so 2 tsp of regular table salt will be just as salty as 1 tbsp or more of kosher salt.  Many people claim it has a “lighter” flavour, but in reality, it tastes the same as any other salt – you’re just using less of it.

Here’s a picture showing a comparison between different types of salt, close-up:

Friday, September 4, 2015

Freeze the lime in the coconut (with just a touch of chocolate, mm-hmm)

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If you’ve ever heard the “Lime in the Coconut” song – don’t worry.  There’s no “bellyaching” here, just a whole fluffy heap of summer-Shabbos deliciousness.

On a hot day, it feels like there is no taste more perfect than lime and coconut mixed together.

Happily, I discovered a couple of years ago that you can WHIP the cream that rises to the top of coconut milk.  Is there anything more perfect, you ask?  No, there is not.

Well, okay... it does get a little more perfect, when you stir in just a small handful of tiny chocolate chips.  Mini chocolate chips work best, because they're awesomely subtle, but really, who's going to complain that their chocolate chips are too big?

Here is the basic premise of this, the easiest and perhaps most perfect of all whipped desserts:

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This isn't exactly a recipe, more like a method.  You'll need well-chilled coconut milk or coconut cream, so stick it in the fridge overnight before you open the tin. 

Only use the coconut cream that's congealed.  Whatever liquid is in there after you scoop out the white stuff is incredibly tasty on chicken, so hang onto it and use it for something else, because it definitely won't whip.

  • Pull out 2 tins of well-chilled coconut milk. 
  • Before it can warm up, skim off the solid white stuff on top and add it to a bowl.
  • Add 2-3 cubes of frozen lime juice (maybe 4-8 Tbsp?), to taste.  If lime juice is frozen, let it thaw a little before starting to whip.
  • Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
  • Whip the white stuff until it gets reasonably firm (it may take a while if it's a warm day, but it WILL whip, so keep going).

Once mixture is fully whipped, gently stir in chocolate chips and transfer to freezer.



That's it - enjoy!!!  Let me know if you love this as much as I do. <3

[lime/coconut photo © Alex Gorzen via Flickr]

Tzivia / צִיבְיָה


Monday, August 31, 2015

Magically healthy panko-baked sweet potato puffs

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Are you sick of kugels but aren’t sure what else you can make to serve on the side of a Shabbos or Yom Tov meal?  Here’s something that’s just as EASY as a kugel, only in tasty, crunchy, bite-sized morsels.
 
Last week, I wanted something like the Alexa brand sweet potato “tater tots,” which by all accounts are absolutely delicious.  We can’t buy them here, so I knew I had to make something from scratch.  My puffs came out totally different, but utterly delightful in their own right.  They’re a great way to sneak even more of that sweet potato goodness onto your family’s menu.
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Plus, they’re terrifically simple:
Bake or boil the sweepoes (I boiled mine), puree them with egg yolks, cornstarch and seasoning, and then coat the mixture with panko before baking.  I added a little melted coconut oil to the sweet potatoes; you could probably leave it out OR substitute canola if you wanted something subtler (there wasn’t a strong coconut taste, however).
 
Everybody loved the taste and texture of these!
 
Here, I’m pureeing the sweet potato.  I added everything in here:  egg yolks, cornstarch, coconut oil, salt and pepper, plus a little cinnamon.  You can leave the cinnamon out if you don’t like it.
 
I let the mixture sit in the fridge for a while in the food processor bowl to firm up a bit before scooping it out.  I think this really helped, though it was still rather mushy.
 
Happily, we had panko (Japanese bread crumbs) in the house.  I mixed in a little melted coconut oil, plus salt and pepper.  Then, I just dropped in the sweet potato mixture by tablespoons-full.  Because they were so mushy, I tossed crumbs over them lightly with a fork to make sure they were completely coated before transferring to the baking pan.

Friday, May 22, 2015

We be (Gulab) Jamun… an out-of-the-ordinary dairy dessert for Shavuos / Shavuot

homemade kosher gulab jamun (Indian sweet dessert) for Shavuot

When I first found out that Judaism had a holiday specifically for celebrating dairy foods, my first thought wasn't cheesecake.  My first thought was... gulab jamun.

What the heck are gulab jamun???

If you love Indian food as much as I do, you probably already know.

I grew up eating a lot of Indian food, and once I started keeping kosher, I missed it most of all.  More than Chinese, Thai, or KFC put together. (Maybe not more than real dim sum!)

When I was a toddler, my father flew to India with an Indian friend and had the time of his life.  He came back with a pair of lovely white linen "day pyjamas" that he'd save for special occasions, a love of delicate nose piercings and an insatiable appetite for Indian food.

(For some weird reason, my father hated ear piercings for girls but told me as I grew up that it would be just fine if I got my nose pierced.  And indeed, he didn't flinch when I eventually got one.)

Ah, but Indian food.  Fortunately, that was one appetite which he shared generously with us (except his love of okra).

Since moving to Israel, I've been on a quest for good Indian food here, which has not really gone well.  There was a place in Jerusalem for a while, but apparently it is no longer under hashgacha.  The food wasn't THAT great anyway, at least, not compared to the Coxwell & Gerard corridor I used to haunt in Toronto before I started keeping kosher.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Keep it cool all summer long with freezer pop molds under $10

Keep it cool all summer long with freezer pop molds under $10

Do you have a problem with ice cubes?

Come on, hands up.  I know I do. 

Working in one of the World’s Tiniest Kitchens, I appreciate any solution that saves space, time, money, and hassle.  And living in Israel, I need – desperately! – to stay cool all summer long. 

Oh, yeah, and if I can spend less than ten bucks, all the better.

Last summer, I bought these silicone freezer pop molds for my husband.  Back in Toronto, he had a brand of storebought freezable juice pops that were 100% juice that he loved as a refreshing summertime treat.  Here, everything is made with a ton of sugar, so I thought he could use these to make his own.

Aren’t they pretty?

A bouquet of gorgeous silicone freezer pop molds

(If you click the pics, you’ll be taken to the best-rated freezer pop molds I could find on Amazon – I bought mine locally.)

Weirdly, and to my great sadness, my husband didn’t take to them.  So they’ve mostly sat empty and unused for the last year.  But when the weather here started heating up last month, I had a flash of realization:  ICE!

Ice, in cube form, is a problem for us for a few reasons:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Meatless Eggy Muffins – quick cure for “hangry” (hungry + angry) mornings

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How hangry do you and your kids get in the morning?  (Or afternoon, depending on how late you've slept in and/or procrastinated.)

Around here, the answer is... VERY.

These quick, easy, eggy muffins are exactly what you need:  the cure for Hangry.  Shh… don’t tell anybody: they’re basically little mini-quiches, just without a crust.

These are sometimes called "scrambled egg muffins."  But on most sites, you'll find them chock-full of some type of meat that just won't work in a kosher kitchen.  Pork, ham and bacon are all super-popular at breakfast time, apparently.

Even if you could use some kosher kind of meat, you'd miss out on all the cheesy goodness of these delighful, bite-sized breakfast treats.  So why bother?  Just toss in lots of veggies and you'll never miss the bacon, I promise.

egg muffins, good enough to eat!

Make your life super-easy and prepare these in reusable silicone muffin cups. 

I didn’t used to like the idea of these, but after a few times of using them for candy and other baked things, I’m sold.  Plus, they’re colourful, cute, and keep your hands from getting greasy.  (They’re sometimes a little tricky to wash after baking things with flour, like muffins, because of all the creases.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Chocolate balls: super-easy Israeli kids’ dessert

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My fellow Israelis are ridiculously huge fans of desserts involving what are basically soggy cookies. 

This may have something to do with the fact that the horrendously misnamed “petit beurre” cookies are absolutely everywhere. These cookies are analagous to the Social Tea biscuits we used to buy back in Canada.  They’re misnamed (in Hebrew, “פתיבר” – all one word) because, being pareve, they don’t contain a single drop of butter.  I’m sure they’d be a great base for desserts of all kinds, but actually, the pareve ones aren’t a bad substitute.

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Perhaps the best-known and most-loved of these treats is Kadurei Shokolad (כדורי שוקולד), literally Chocolate Balls.  When I told my kids we were having them, they literally jumped and shouted “yay!”  GZ (age 7) was not too thrilled when I told him he’d be making them himself, but he got into it quickly.

These are super-easy to make, and tons of fun to do with kids. 

I recommend having a variety of sprinkly things on hand to roll them in.  We didn’t; in fact, our sprinkles ran out halfway through, so we ended up coating 3/4 of them in plain cocoa.  Which is fine.  Icing sugar would work fine as well.  So would Demerara sugar.

(I don’t usually like coating things in icing sugar or cocoa because then it falls off on your shirt when you eat it.  In this case, after I stored the balls in an airtight container, the cocoa became moist enough that it wasn’t a problem.)

You could use

Friday, May 1, 2015

Homemade “No Corn Syrup!” Kosher Marshmallows (without all the patchke)

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I’ve always loved the way Shoshana at Couldn’t be Parve turns out gorgeous gourmet marshmallows in flavours like Blood Orange, Rose and Raspberry Lemonade.  She makes it look easy, and the truth is, I’ve followed her recipes and they’re not difficult.

But as with most marshmallow recipes, they involve hauling out a thermometer (and I don’t have a real candy thermometer, just a digital one that I dunk into things as needed). 

Most marshmallow recipes also call for corn syrup, though Shoshana does offer a liquid invert sugar “marshmallow syrup” recipe that I’ve used several times.  It works, but it involves extra steps that add to the “patchke” of making marshmallows from scratch.

When we were invited to gluten-free friends for lunch, I saw it as a great opportunity to make marshmallows again.  But I REALLY wasn’t looking forward to monitoring the temperature or doing the invert-sugar step.  Out of curiosity, I started googling thermometer-free recipes, and found this one, which was also – as a bonus – corn-syrup free as well.

I missed photographing the early steps of prepping this, but it’s very straightforward.

Before you start, you will need:

  • REAL Gelatin, not unflavoured kosher jelly-style dessert pudding mix or any other thing that makes a jelly-type pudding.
  • A stand mixer.  Any marshmallow recipe needs about 10-15 minutes of mixing, but with a decent stand mixer, you can just start it up, set a timer, and walk away while it works.

I used the last package of our Kolatin gelatin from Canada.  It expired about a year ago, so I tested it first by mixing it with a little water, and it set up just fine.  If it hadn’t, there is gelatin available in stores here in Israel as well.

Here is the gelatin, mixed with water.

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(Don’t ask me, by the way, why gelatin is pareve.  It comes from animals… but apparently changes sufficiently that it is no longer considered an animal product?  If you can explain this, let me know in the comments!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Delicious, delightful, Kosher for Pesach soup lokshen (noodles)

Passover Pesach lokshen noodles soup lokshen pareve

Around here, it’s not truly Pesach cooking season until the soup lokshen are ready.  Each year, this is how I inaugurate my brand-new, shiny-clean Pesach kitchen.

(What?  Yes, I’m still going on about Pesach… when do you want me to blog about Pesach, DURING Pesach?  Before Pesach??  Oy.  This was the first chance I’ve had to breathe, and post this, in nearly a month.)

This year, I mentioned to a friend that I was getting ready to make the lokshen, and she said, “what?”

It turns out that not everybody makes Pesach lokshen… go figure.

It’s exactly like making blintzes during the year, except you leave out the flour.  And because blintz leaves are mainly flour, you have to add a LOT more egg.  This bowl has maybe ten eggs in it.

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What’s the exact recipe?  You’ll have to forgive me, but I’ve never written it down.  Here are all the components:

  • 10 eggs (Large)
  • Several Tbsp of oil
  • About 1/4 cup of potato starch
  • Salt and pepper
  • Some water but not enough to make it too runny (probably about 1/4-1/2 cup?)

If you make enough blintzes during the year, you’ll probably be able to get the hang of making this batter – just add enough water to make it feel like regular blintz batter.  For whatever reason, I always end up mixing this with an old-fashioned egg beater, literally the only time of year that I do that.

I also have a special nonstick crepe pan, and it’s the only time of year that I voluntarily use a nonstick pan.  It just works so, so well for this exact purpose.  Way better than a regular frying pan or skillet would, because there’s no side to get caught on when you’re tipping the blintz off.

So here are the steps, a little wonky and out of order.  (On the back burner, by the way, is a pot of ready-for-the-Seder chicken soup bubbling away!)

1.  Mix your mixture (see above)

2.  With a ladle, pour a thin layer onto hot crepe pan, swirling pan until covered – immediately pour off excess back into bowl.

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3.  When the leaf is done, tip it upside-down onto a cutting board or plate to cool.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

5 Slurp-Worthy Kosher Ramen Hacks

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You might have guessed that I haven’t been a college student for some time now.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not still addicted to one of the staples of college-student life.  I don’t feed it to my family, but when I’m looking to treat myself, one of my favourite indulgences is… ramen noodles.

You can find all sorts of articles online about how ramen is the perfect college food because it’s something like 20 cents a packet.  That’s not quite true if you’re cooking kosher.  Kosher ramen has always been a little more of a luxury; I don’t think we ever found it for less than $1.99 in Toronto. 

Here in Israel, it’s about 4nis (about $1), though it’s sometimes on sale for less (like 5 for 10nis).

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These aren’t recipes, more like suggestions.  The key is to not try to do too much at any one time.  Too many flavours will only clash with each other; choose two or three distinctive notes that will work well in harmony.  Here are some flavour notes that might inspire you as much as they have inspired me:

  • Toasted sesame oil
  • Soy sauce (the good stuff)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Miso (I like white)
  • Mirin (Asian cooking wine)
  • frozen mixed Asian vegetables
  • frozen peas / carrots / corn
  • Peanut butter
  • Coconut milk
  • Sriracha (asian chili sauce)
  • Eggs
  • Firm tofu (I like to fry it with a little soy sauce before adding to soup to help it keep it shape & texture)

Play around with it yourself and I’m sure you’ll find a combination that works beautifully for you.  Feel free to share your own favourite ramen hacks in the Comments!

1.  Asian ramen pancakes

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to turn humble onions into sweet, savory magic: caramelize them.

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Want a secret weapon in your cooking arsenal that you can pull out anytime to make anything taste better?

One that can make the difference between a dish that's good and a dish that's fabulous?  Between so-so and WOW?  A secret ingredient you can toss into almost anything, because it's totally pareve and versatile?

No, it’s not a dream.

Yes, this magic ingredient exists... and it's onions - the caramelized kind.

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Is it magic?  Or science?

Onions are like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  When they're raw, they're hard, sharp, with a nasty sting that makes your eyes tear up.  But when caramelized, they're soft, mellow, sweet and... well, full of all that caramelly goodness.

The word "caramelization" refers to the browning that happens in the onion's sugars.  Sugar in an onion?  You betcha.  Even the most humble yellow onions have plenty of sugar, and the special sweeter varieties like Vidalia have even more.

Did you know that you can actually caramelize onions in the crock pot

Sunday, February 22, 2015

It’s Adar… so let’s get cooking! Kosher Cooking Carnival (KCC)

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Life really does get cooking at this time of year… kind of literally.  I’m usually pulling out of my winter hibernation just in time for yom tov cooking/baking, first in a fun Purim way and then in a dead-serious Pesach way.

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This carnival is about all things kosher and cooking.  If your blog is, too, or if you’ve blogged about kosher food on another blog, then you’re welcome to join us! 

So what’s doing in kosher food?

What we’re eating

First of all, with Pesach on the way, you should be inventorying your food and trying to use up what you’ve got.  If you haven’t already, there’s still time to start, as Batya does at her blog me-ander in Pre-Passover Inventory Time.  She says, “Sometimes I'm totally amazed at what has been stored away all year waiting for a special occasion.”

Latkes, wine, brisket, and a new glatt-kosher meal ingredient home-delivery kit?  (I wonder if they deliver to Israel?!?) It’s all packed into the review of This Week in Kosher Food Trends by Shannon Sarna of The Nosher. “I went home happy, full, a little buzzed and inspired from the innovative approaches to Jewish food.”

On her new macrobiotic cooking/eating/thinking blog, Jerusalem MacroLovers, Klara discusses how cooking is so much more than just having the right recipes in Is Cooking Magical??  She says, “My ideal kind of a cooking class is where first the teacher demonstrates, then the student goes home to practice, then comes back to class and does it again.”

What we’re drinking

When creating Christmas ales has become a tradition

Granola greetings: a perfect way to start the day (dairy)

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It’s sort of like alchemy, really… you take oats, which is essentially horse food, and you turn it into pure, hearty breakfast yumminess.

If you’re thinking of starting to make your own granola, this is one of those “old favourite” recipes you’ll want to keep handy.

This picture here of the ingredients highlights the truly “no-frills” alchemy of this recipe:  crafting a premium product out of all these yellow-label groceries.  (the brown sugar and a couple of other things that aren’t packed in yellow were left out of the photo)

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I’ve made this granola many, many times now.  I’m still searching for a source of milk powder (skim or otherwise) in Israel, because now I miss it… a lot.  Plus, storebought granola is pretty expensive here, while oats are relatively cheap.

I was surprised the first few times that I liked it so much; I’m not a huge granola fan.  Before I made this, I tried the Artisan Bread in Five Granola (the granola is meant to be used to make yummy Granola Bread!), but to be honest, I wasn’t that inspired by it.  This one DID inspire me.

What’s the difference?

In this recipe, it’s the milk powder that MAKES the granola.  It makes the granola sort of clump together the same way Quaker Harvest Crunch does – delicious clusters of pure homemade crunchy deliciousness.  If you don’t have powdered milk or don’t want to make a dairy granola – ie, for baking – then stick with the ABin5 recipe; it’s very good.  Otherwise, try this one – it’s GREAT!

I recommend that you not double the recipe.  The single one makes a decent quantity, and it doesn’t keep long.  Plus, my family gets sick of eating the same thing surprisingly quickly.  This is so fast to throw together that you can always whip up more if it vanishes.  (If you have a big family, I suppose you could double it, but keep in mind that you’ll need to spread it out flat to bake properly in the oven.)

This recipe is adapted from The Tightwad Gazette.

What you need:

The Wet Stuff:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup honey

Friday, February 20, 2015

Kosher Kinda-Caribbean Rice & Beans – easy, creamy & delish (and pareve, too)

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I've been on a bean kick this winter.  So when I wanted an out-of-the-ordinary side dish that would double as something appealing and warm that I could offer the kids when they came home on a blustery, rainy day, I decided this Caribbean-style rice would be incredible.

I'm calling it “Caribbean-style” (sorta Caribbean) because I've never had ACTUAL Caribbean rice.  And I didn't follow the recipes I found online (mainly this one) to the letter. 

2017 UPDATE!  Watch me make a quick-n-easy variation of this recipe that you can throw together in under half an hour:

 

Most of the recipes I found are spicier than my family likes, although one I found suggests cooking the pepper without opening it (do not peel, seed, chop etc, just toss it in whole), which apparently adds  warmth without spicy violence.  Sounds like a great hack if I ever feel like pushing the envelope.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My daughter’s new favourite soup: Creamy Zucchini-Potato (pareve)

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I know I’ve been doing a lot of soups lately.  Forgive me… it’s winter and I could not be happier. 

Before we moved to Israel, we got used to inaugurating Soup Season at Sukkos and finishing sometime after Pesach.  Here, Soup Season is way shorter – more like December to February than October to April.  So little time, and so many soups to cram in while we’re still shivering.

This Zucchini-Potato Soup is pareve because it gets its creaminess from pureeing potatoes.  It is super-fast, mainly because you make it in a small batch.  It can easily be doubled, tripled, etc., to serve a crowd. 

Did I mention that my daughter is nine?  She found this herself in the cookbook and has actually made it entirely by herself, except for the pureeing part at the end.

If you are just starting out on the soup-making journey, this is the perfect soup for you to start with.  It can be anything you want it to be.  You don’t taste the zucchini, which is perfect, because most of us here don’t love zukes. 

If you want something with a stronger flavour, add broccoli and boil it a little longer.  For a bit of colour, add a carrot instead.  This soup essentially cannot be ruined.

It’s adapted from Gatherings: the Netivot HaTorah Day School Cookbook, which is a terrific, sensible cookbook now published by Feldheim.  I am actually mentioned near the back – under my previous name - because I was on the original committee.  (I don’t think I actually did anything, but it’s nice to get credit!)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thinking outside of the Triangle: 26 zany new hamentashen you’ll “flip” for in 5775!

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The theme of Purim is “venahafoch hu” – it was overturned.  Everything is flipped around at this busy, zany, fun time of year… including the tedium of using the same traditional recipes, year in and year out. 

There’s a time for “moon and prune” (the traditional poppy and prune fillings), of course. 

But why not turn to one of these jaw-dropping new creations to discover a brand-new favourite you can proudly share with family and friends?  There’s certainly plenty here to choose from…

1. Gingerbread / chocolate hamentaschen

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2. Rainbow hamentaschen

3. Nutella hamentaschen

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4. Black sesame hamentaschen

5. Yeasty hamentaschen

6. Candy-cane cheesecake hamentaschen

Sunday, February 8, 2015

15-minute pareve peanut brittle? Yes, you can!

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Looking for a quick-and-easy dessert recipe but you don’t have much time?

All you need is some nuts plenty of white sugar, corn syrup* and a thermometer.  And that, plus maybe 15 minutes, is just about all you need!

*If you’re in Israel, where corn syrup is hard to get, you can make your own invert sugar syrup instead.

Shh… let me tell you a secret:  I don’t like peanuts, so I always make this with almonds instead. 

I toast them in the oven ahead of time, because it really helps intensify the flavour.  No salt or oil; just almonds in a tinfoil pan.  Toasting won’t bring back rancid almonds, but it can perk up the ones that taste like they’ve been on a supermarket shelf in a plastic container for a bit too long.  I also cut the almonds in half, because a whole almond is overwhelming in brittle.

NOTE:  Measure all the ingredients before you start! 

As with other types of candy-making, things move pretty quickly once you reach your target temperature.  Also, forget about the “drop” method – hard ball, soft crack, and whatnot - or any other you’ve read about for checking the temperature – just use a thermometer!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Friday, February 6, 2015

Hot and WHAT…? Hot and sour, one of my all-time favourite soups

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Do you love Asian flavours as much as I do?

Then maybe you miss them as much as I do, too.

Even though Israel is technically IN Asia, it’s tough to get authentic-tasting Asian food here.  Takeout places are hit and miss, mostly on the “miss” side of things… as in, I totally MISS delicious hot and sour soup.  Yes, it looks disgusting (if you make it right).  But the mix of flavours, of sweet, spicy, pungent, salty… well, it’s divine.

(And on the plus side, the hottest thing in Tel Aviv is kosher dim sum, and it actually tastes okay, so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.)

Still, while the cool weather lasts a little longer here, I thought I’d share one of my all-time favourite soup recipes – to make, to share, to just lean over and inhale.  It’s very, very fragrant.  You can adjust the hotness and sourness to suit your family’s taste.

RECIPE DISCLAIMER: 

As with most of my favourite easy soups, this recipe is an approximation, not an actual scientific calculation of ingredients and quantities.  Play with it.  Have fun, and taste it as you go along, and the results will be edible at worst and mind-blowing at best!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

My mother’s secret pralines: turn ordinary pecans into… magic

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I have the secret!

But you have to swear you won’t tell.  These are my mother’s top-secret recipe, which was my grandmother’s top-secret recipe before that… which may not not really be all that secret after all.

I wish I had a great picture to show you, but believe me, these turn out looking beautiful.  Every time I make them, they go so quickly that there’s no chance to take a picture.

So now, like me, you can make Pralined Pecans (or pralined almonds, as I did during Pesach) any day… or any night! Anytime, really. They are super super easy. And they always turn out well, despite my occasional neglect – crystally and nice and nostalgic.

Ready? Here goes!

Three Magical Ingredients!

  • 1/2 lb whole pecans [about 2 cups] - I don't know what she means by WHOLE pecans - I use raw (unroasted, unsalted) pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup water [or sherry, my mother says]
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Linzer Tart, gluten free by Paula Shoyer (shh... it’s Kosher for Passover too)

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Planning for Pesach yet?

No???  Why the heck not?

Oh, yeah... because it's January.  Then again, when better to test out recipes so your family doesn't have to live with those thrown-together first-time "experiments" when yom tov rolls around?

And if you think of it as the most incredible gluten-free pie crust you've ever seen, EVER, then it becomes a little easier (so to speak) to swallow.

cover, The New Passover Menu, by Paula Shoyer Plus, hey, who doesn't love a new cookbook?  Especially when, like Maryland mom Paula Shoyer's brand-new The New Passover Menu, it's a totally user-friendly experience, complete with prep times, cook times, hints for advance prep and freezing... plus, get this:  equipment lists. 

image from, The New Passover Menu, by Paula Shoyer

Yes!  A cookbook writer who GETS what it's like to work in a bare-bones Pesach kitchen, not sure if you have a pareve sieve or not.  (Though she recommends that everybody run out to buy a waffle iron for Pesach, which may not be the most practical suggestion ever.)

I discovered Shoyer through an invitation to watch her cook in the home of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel.  Who could I resist an invite like this?  (Not me!)

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Thursday, January 29, 2015

What to expect (maybe you know the feeling?)

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You know that feeling?  When you’re expecting something really, really good in the mail? 

Like a tasty treasure-trove of Starbucks instant coffee from your sister Canada?  Because there IS no Starbucks in Israel, only Aroma, which isn’t nearly as good?  (okay, only Aroma, and Greg, and Roladin and Maafah Na’aman, and a million other chains, which is fantastic, but they are NOT Starbucks)

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And everywhere you turn…

(and by the way, Starbucks is NOT not here because of antisemitic or anti-Israel or anti-Zionist anything)

Even nestled in the weeds…

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Hiding in the neighbourhood olive trees…

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And twisted into the branches of even weirder trees…

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Baking maven Paula Shoyer declares war on kichel. This killer recipe proves her wrong.

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Know what the most popular post on this site is, right at this very moment?  By far?

It’s a post called “Mmm… kichelicious.”

I adore kichel, the dry unsweetened European cookie that has been a staple of Jewish life since… well, probably since someone’s Bubby needed to make cookies and discovered that she was out of sugar.  Apparently, thousands of people out there on the Internet love kichel and want to know how to make it well at home.

okDSCN2421 But celebrity kosher baker Paula Shoyer does not.  Which is too bad, because in every other way, she’s absolutely perfect. 

I enjoyed a baking demo she did yesterday at the home of the U.S. ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro.  She did a really great job of preparing a couple of basic recipes that I hope to share with you very soon.

But the real reason for her crusade to bring simple, delicious pareve baking recipes to home cooks is because, as she said yesterday, “in the U.S., pareve desserts… are absolutely horrific.”

Foremost among the horrors?  The kichels on every table, at every shul kiddush.  Paula did not mince words, describing them as a “dog biscuit with sugar on top.”

Them’s fightin’ words, Paula. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

How many minutes till snack time?? Feeding hungry kids after school.

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What do you feed your kids when they walk through the door?

(Or do you feed them at all?)

I admit, this is one of my weaknesses as a parent.  One of the things I’m really not so good at.

Maybe you’re better than me at this (if so, I want to hear from you in the comments!), but perhaps the thing I’m worst at, as a parent, is feeding starving kids – my own.

When they walk in the door after school, they’re famished.  Not literally starving, as I’ve told them many times.  But they are very, very hungry.

Worse still is that they usually don’t realize it yet.  They don’t feel hungry – but they are.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Go soak your head… and NOT your beans!

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Here it is:  The bean snob’s guide to delicious quick-cook, no-soak beans.

Do you love beans?  Or do you just put up with them?

For years, in Canada, we were hooked on canned beans.  We put up with them, even enjoyed them, if they were seasoned heavily enough.

Blah.  Never again.

Here in Israel, I’ve become a beany snob. 

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(nothing delicious can come out of here…)

Canned beans may be easy, but they are also mushy and worse than flavourless – they’re tin-flavoured.  Here, canned beans practically don’t exist, so we don’t have any choice.  And the great news is that from-scratch beans are tastier, too.  By which I mean they taste like something.  As opposed to a tin can.

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